Monday, September 17, 2007

Mears, Newman, Yeley best of the non-Chasers

LOUDON, N.H. -- Chase for the Nextel Cup contenders left very little room for non-Chasers Sunday in the top 10 of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Chase contenders filled the top seven spots, behind inaugural race winner Clint Bowyer's No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet -- which was in the top 10 for 298 of 300 laps.

But three non-Chasers -- Casey Mears, Ryan Newman and J.J. Yeley -- rounded out the top 10 in eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the opener for the fourth annual Chase.

Non-Chase drivers who led the race actually out-numbered the 12 Chasers, five-to-four, but led by Bowyer's race-high 222 laps, the Chase contenders led 273 laps to 17 total for the non-Chasers, of whom Mears led a single lap and Newman, two circuits.

While Bowyer had the rest of the field handled, Mears' No. 25 Chevrolet made the fourth Hendrick Motorsports entry in the top eight spots.

"That's awesome -- everybody [at Hendrick's] did a good job [Sunday]," Mears said after running in the top 10 for 116 laps. "We had a good car for the majority of the race, we were just a little too tight there at the beginning, we did a good job freeing it up and we got the track position at the end."

Mears and Newman, in particular, had some spirited racing going, down the stretch. Mears smiled about it after exiting his car, noting that he and Newman's No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge were indeed beating and banging a bit, which Mears called "just racing."

"I held off the 12 [Newman] there at the end, which was a good finish for us," Mears said. "We finished in front of everybody that we needed to beat in the points [Sunday] and led some laps, so I was real happy about that."

Newman smiled, too, when asked about the stretch of hard racing, but his words carried a little more bite.

"Yeah -- he was mirror-driving, and he'll know what it will feel like, some other time," Newman said, before reflecting on his day racing amongst Chase contenders. "It was pretty uneventful -- just normal racing [all day]. We don't do anything crazy, we don't think."

While all three men claimed their cars were varying degrees of "too tight" for a lot of the day, Newman worked around it well enough to be in the top 10 virtually the entire race, a third-best overall total of 282 laps, for which he tied sixth-place Jimmie Johnson.

"Track position was the name of the game," Newman said. "We had a fast car but we just got behind and were a little too tight there the last two runs and that really hurt us. It was a good run for the Mobil 1 Dodge for us to get a top-10 out of it.
"We were tight and then our last pit stop was a little less than par -- that hurt us for sure on the green-flag pit stop. We just look forward to carrying out the rest of the season."
Yeley, who'll leave Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 car at the end of the season, before it switches from Chevrolet to Toyota badges, also had a bird's eye view of the late race action. He was thrilled to gain his second consecutive top-10 finish, following up his equivalent 10th at Richmond and was happy with the way the day ended.
"It's just a lot more fun running up front," Yeley said. "Obviously you are racing with the better guys and they're a little more courteous and the car runs better because you are running toward the front. It was definitely a good run and we're happy to log two top-10 finishes in a row -- but you always wish you could have been better.
"I didn't want to see any cautions [because] the car was really good but it was so hard to pass. I watched the 12 car [Newman] trying to wreck the 25 [Mears] the last 10 laps and I could see Jamie McMurray was catching me when I was trying to get through lapped traffic.

"There are so many things that can happen. I had a fast racecar, but having an open track versus trying to pass everyone was another story. I'm happy with 10th and this is what we need."

"Yeah, it makes us feel pretty good we were one of the few non-Chase guys to race in the top 10 [Sunday]," Yeley's crew chief, Steve Addington, said. "We unloaded good on Friday and we had a good race at Richmond, and this Interstate Batteries crew really worked hard this weekend, the pit stops were decent all day and J.J. did a good job all day long for us.

"We just needed to turn in the center a little bit better -- but everybody was fighting that. And when you got the center better, you were loose off. We just kept adjusting on it and we finally went back to where we could get off the corner better and that helped us a bunch."

"We want to win a race before the year is out, that's the main goal," Yeley said. "But at the same time if we continue to finish in the top 10 we'll peck away at the guys in front of us in points and it would be cool to get back into the top 15 in points before the year is out."

Yeley is currently 19th in the standings, unofficially 205 points behind 15th-place Mears. Newman is 14th, 188 points ahead of Mears.

"The biggest thing we needed to do is to continue to finish in front of everybody we are racing up to 13th position in the points and hopefully get that 13th spot by the end of the year," Mears said. "That is definitely our goal and I think it is a very realistic goal. We keep closing ground and to come back from 35th at some point in the season to rally back to where we are at now and have a shot at getting 13th is a really good job for this team. We just struggled a little bit too much at the beginning of the season but we definitely could have been in this Chase if we hadn't."

Among the other non-Chase drivers, Reed Sorenson led once for nine laps in his No. 41 Ganassi Racing Dodge, before spinning out of the lead group when his loose Avenger got away from him.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent the most laps in the top 10 among the non-Chasers who didn't finish there, 145, and he led once for four laps.
 

 

2 comments:

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

It was pretty much a bowtie parade ..they seem to have the edge with the COT

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